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  • Allie Merrill

Real Life Treasure Hunting with Dal Neitzel (and Forrest Fenn's treasure!)

About 4 years ago, I was reading the news on my phone when I came across an article about a treasure chest filled with gold and gems worth over 1 million dollars hidden inside. The chest was put there by Forrest Fenn -- a collector of art and artifacts who lives in Sante Fe, New Mexico-- after he was diagnosed with cancer and thought he only had a short time to live. Forrest wrote a poem as clues for searchers (see below) and has also written a few books on the topic and his life. I was immediately interested in this, not so much for the treasure's sake (although that would be a perk of following this story!), but for the people hunting for it. Those traveling from all over the world in search of the gold, the rangers who must get questions all the time about this, and Forrest Fenn himself.


In searching out info about the hidden treasure chest, I came across a blog where searchers were sharing ideas, location they had visited, swapped hunting stories, and had formed a community online in search of the gold. They even have a yearly meetup called Fennboree where they camp, share stories, and hunt for the treasure together! That blog is how I got in touch with Dal Neitzel -- he owns and runs the blog where the searchers congregate.

Forrest Fenn and Dal Neitzel

At the time, I was hoping for a more in-depth podcast series or documentary about the treasure and the hunters, so Dal's interview was the starting point, but life got in the way and I never moved beyond that single interview. Now, here we are four years later, I have a podcast and the week I was supposed to share the interview is the week the treasure was found! I waited a few weeks to see what other info would come out before sharing the episode since I didn't want to jump the gun in case it was a false alarm. It has since been proved through photos that the chest was indeed found and the search is over! (Head on over to Dal's blog for photos of the chest.)


Don't worry, I haven't spoiled the episode as Dal has some really interesting stories of his own to share about his own searches, how he met and became friends with Forrest, and his own life as a documentarian.



Dal Neitzel


You can check out his website at dalneitzel.com to find out more info on the treasure and the recent finding of it. His most recent post can be read here. July 4th will be the last day that the blog is available for comments before it is archived as a read-only place to peruse the history that the treasure hunt has become. Dal wrote a proper farewell to the treasure hunting journey that I recommend you read at the link above.


Here is the poem, if you still want to try and solve it :)


Forrest Fenn's Poem:


As I have gone alone in there And with my treasures bold, I can keep my secret where, And hint of riches new and old.


Begin it where warm waters halt And take it in the canyon down, Not far, but too far to walk. Put in below the home of Brown.


From there it’s no place for the meek, The end is ever drawing nigh; There’ll be no paddle up your creek, Just heavy loads and water high.


If you’ve been wise and found the blaze, Look quickly down, your quest to cease, But tarry scant with marvel gaze, Just take the chest and go in peace.


So why is it that I must go And leave my trove for all to seek? The answers I already know, I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.


So hear me all and listen good, Your effort will be worth the cold. If you are brave and in the wood I give you title to the gold.





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